New Amsterdam, New York, and Colonial Law in the New World

in The Origins and Development of American Legal History in New York City (1609-1865)
Lesson 1

Created by Dr. Aaron Welt,  
Judith S. Kaye Teaching Fellow

NYS Common Core Grades 11 & 12:
United States History and Government
Participation in Government and Civics

This is the first in a series of five lesson plans designed to familiarize upper-level high school and college students with the early history of American law, with a specific focus on New York City. These lesson plans utilize online resources provided by the Historical Society of the New York Courts and aim to introduce students to the major events and turning points that help us understand how American law, courts, and the criminal justice system developed in early US history. The lesson plans are divided chronologically and thematically, but are meant to be instructed in conversation with one another. For each of the outlined class activities, students should write down their answers to submit to the instructor. 

This lesson plan meets the following guidelines of New York State’s Common Core Social Studies Framework (2017):

  • Colonial Foundations: 11.1c



The Historical Society’s website contains a wealth of related resources, including descriptions of cases and biographies of judges who decided the cases. 

New York Under Dutch Rule
Legal History by Era

The Eight Men (1643-1647) & The Remonstrance of Manhatas
Petition to the Dutch Parliament

The Nine Men & the 1649 Remonstrance of the Commonality of the New Netherland
Petition to the Dutch Parliament

Colonial New York Under British Rule
Legal History by Era

Crown v. William Prendergast

Hon. Daniel Horsmanden
Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court of Judicature
Presided over the case


Image Citation: The New York Public Library, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection

Revolutionary New York and the Origins of American Law
Lesson 2
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